Muslims worldwide prepare for Eid al-Fitr

7 May

Preparing for Eid

Eid al-Fitr, or the Feast of Breaking the Fast, comes after a month of fasting between dawn and sunset. This year it will be celebrated on May 1 or 2 in many countries, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Many Muslims, as here in Istanbul, have been flocking to markets to prepare for the festival.

 

Colorful departure from Dhaka

In countries such as Bangladesh, millions of city dwellers are jostling to get out and join their families in towns and villages to celebrate Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of the holiest month in the Islamic calendar. Here, residents of Dhaka stretch out on the roof of an overcrowded ferry as it leaves the Bangladeshi capital.

 

Annual exodus from Jakarta

It's a similar situation in Indonesia, where people are waiting for trains to take them out of the capital, Jakarta. Indonesia, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population, sees an annual exodus from cities as millions of residents begin to leave for their villages to be with their families and close friends during Eid al-Fitr.

 

Holiday rush on Indonesian island of Sulawesi

Eid al-Fitr is the busiest holiday in Indonesia. An estimated 85 million Indonesians are heading out to the provinces this year — on ferries, by train, on motorbikes and by airplane, providing a fillip to the transport sector. This year, with COVID-19 cases down and most restrictions on movement scrapped, authorities have reinstated the weeklong Eid holiday.

 

A boost to local businesses

Eid al-Fitr is also an occasion to splurge. Many worshippers buy and wear new clothes and jewelry during the festival. The spending spree is critical for many local businesses, as here at a market in Kolkata, in eastern India. Retailers usually depend on the period around Eid to boost their sales.

 

Eid celebrations in shadow of conflict in Syria

Markets selling dry fruits, spices and sweets, such as this one in Idlib in northwestern Syria, are also gearing up for brisk business around Eid al-Fitr. Families and friends usually exchange gifts during the festival. Many families in Syria are struggling to maintain traditional celebrations after years of conflict and displacement.

 

A mouthwatering delicacy in Jordan

After a month of fasting every day, it's little surprise that Eid largely centers on food. In some places, lavish spreads are typically on offer. Here in Amman, in Jordan, a vendor prepares kunafa, a hallmark syrupy dessert in the Middle East made of cheese, with toppings including fruit, nuts, chocolate and cream.

 

Baking Eid sweets in Gaza

Cookies filled with dates, mixed nuts or a mix of honey and sesame seeds are another quintessential Eid delicacy across the Middle East. Baking the cookies, which are called kakh, is a key social activity, with many families gathering to make and decorate the cookies ahead of Eid, as here in Gaza.

 

A spirit of giving

One of the key elements of Eid is the concept of Zakat al-Fitr, which obliges Muslims who can afford it to make a donation in cash or food to allow the less fortunate to celebrate Eid. Here, a vendor in Indonesia prepares money, as Indonesians usually exchange money into smaller denominations to be shared as gifts with families.

 

Two different Eids?

Another Eid favorite is qatayef, a pancake with sweet cream and nuts and doused in syrup. Some people are confused that there are two Eids: Eid al-Fitr comes at the end of Ramadan and celebrates the breaking of the fast. The other, Eid al-Adha, which means "festival of the sacrifice," is held about two months later and coincides with the Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia, known as hajj.

 

Author Sonia Phalnikar

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